RTI Judgement Series: Unaware of facts, FAA orders PIO to furnish information again!
The PIO provided information within 15 days and yet, unaware of the scandalous state of affairs in the food and supply department, the FAA asked him to furnish the information again. This is the 57th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while disposing off an appeal, observed how highest authorities, instead of taking responsibility for the distressing state of affairs of their department, harass citizens and even Public Information Officers (PIOs).
While giving this important judgement on 2 July 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The PIO has definitely given the information available with him within 15 days. The appellate authority LR Garg, joint commissioner—who cannot be unaware of this scandalous state of affairs—has just ordered that the PIO should furnish information. It is not at all clear what the PIO is expected to do.”
Delhi resident Suraj Pal, on 16 March 2010, sought information from the Food and Supply department of Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) about his ration card. Here is the information he sought and the answers provided by the PIO...
1. Furnish information regarding not printing of BPL ration card of the appellant.
PIO's reply—Cards were sent for modernization, but your card is still to be received by the department.
2. Furnish information that to get a printed BPL ration card appellant has to pay Rs25 or this fee is asked due to a departmental order, give certified copy.
PIO's reply—For getting the card an application has to be made on a plain paper. The amount of Rs25 is charged on form ‘A’ (New/Changing of Name of head/ Duplicate ration card.).
3. If no then what is the reason for not giving a ration card to the appellant.
PIO's reply—The appellant can come to the office and write an application regarding this matter.
4. Kindly give the name of the person who had the responsibility to print the ration card of the appellant.
PIO's reply—New ration cards are sent to VIRGO company. The appellant’s ration card is still to come back.
5. Kindly reply that taking Rs25 from the appellant by FSO and inspector is valid. If yes then under which departmental order it is taken. Furnish certified copy.
PIO's reply—There is no fee taken for making an application to the Department. Fee is only taken for form ‘A’. Please come to the office and meet the Asst. Commissioner.
6. Kindly inform that will there be any action taken against the FSO and the inspector.
PIO's reply—Kindly specify your question regarding form ‘A’.
7. Enclose that the acts of FSO and inspector are not legal then what action is taken by the Department against them.
8. Kindly furnish the date by which the new ration card will be given to the appellant.
PIO's reply—Come to the office and give an application. Action will be taken.
Claiming the information provided by the PIO was insufficient and unsatisfactory, Pal filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA), ordered the PIO to redress the grievance of Pal within 15 days.
Then Pal approached the CIC citing non-compliance of the FAA order by the PIO and filed his second appeal.
During a hearing, the food supply officer, representing the PIO stated that printing of the ration cards was outsourced to a vendor called VIRGO, which had not supplied the ration cards since three years.
Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, observed that the PIO has given the information within 15 days, however, the FAA ordered that the PIO should furnish information. “It is not at all clear what the PIO is expected to do. The department at the highest level has to take the responsibility for the distressing state of affairs where ration cards were not being printed for three years by a vendor. It is unimaginable that the department cannot find a corrective action for this. This is unnecessarily harassing citizens and also PIOs who are left to justifying a completely unjustifiable situation,” the Commission said.
While disposing off the appeal, Mr Gandhi said the PIO has provided the information available with him.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001364/8383
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/001364
Appellant : Suraj Pal
Respondent : Chokhe Lal
Public Information Officer &
Food and Supply, GNCTD, Gov. of NCT
Delhi, Block C, Pkt. C, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi